Friday, August 7, 2015

From New York to Puerto Rico to New York…

Chalk artist creating outside of El Museo Del Barrio.

As per my original intention, this blog – Travesia Artistica – was meant to document my experience with the Community Arts University Without Walls (CAUWW) program in Puerto Rico, as well as any subsequent inspirations that came out of it. Since I’ve been home in New York City, I have been thinking a lot about what those “subsequent inspirations” and projects are/will be. Although it’s been a while since I actually posted here, so I figure I’d better do so ASAP.

First off, there’s my own personal painting project inspired by my CAUWW experience, which I have already started on (updates soon to come). Secondly there is my art exhibition/event project, which I plan to produce and will include a group of multi-disciplinary artists. The concept for the event was actually my CAUWW final project presentation, however, after getting home, I realized that I need more time to conceptualize and tighten up on my mission (I hope to have that done very soon) before I can start on the production. Besides these projects, I have continued to attend lots of art exhibits and events (if you know me, you know that this is a very regular occurrence), documenting and posting them through my Instagram account (with the appropriate hashtags, of course!) so that they can be shared far and wide. The addition in this case, is that now I have an eye out for the particular Puerto Rican, diasporic and/or Nuyorican connections  – and making said connections on my Instagram postings, and on this very blog. (All three of these things: the painting project, the exhibition event and the online publishing are interrelated, as I hope will be evident once they are all publicly presented.)

One such connecting-of-the-dots that I’ve made is to see the art exhibit that’s up right now: ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York. It’s a three-pronged exhibit that’s taking place simultaneously at three NYC institutions: The Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, and Loisaida Inc.  It piqued my interest, especially after having met Panama Alba, a member of the Young Lords Party (he presented a passionate lecture on his first-hand experience and history of YLP for CAUWW). Two weeks ago I saw ¡Presente! at El Museo (during a block party, Uptown Bounce, in conjunction with the Museum of the City of New York), and last Wednesday I went to Loisaida Inc.

In addition to the exhibit, Loisaida Inc. provided some thoughtful public programming. First, Maximo Colon gave a gallery talk discussing his work as a world-renown photographer, and his involvement with the Struggle as documenting through powerful black and white photography (many which are included in this exhibition) during the time when the YLP was most active. Next, there was another talk: Presente in Absentia: Diasporic Responses to Puerto Rico’s Crisis. This was a brilliant in the part of Loisaida Inc. to make the connection between what was happening politically during the YLP’s heyday and what’s happening now – and offering the opportunity to create dialogue around it. The presenters were journalist Ed Morales, activist David Galarza Santa, leader of Puerto Rico's Working People’s Party, Rafael Bernabe (who Skyped in from Puerto Rico) and a last-minute addition, poet and activist Felipe Luciano. The presentation was well-attended and the conversation was lively (to put it mildly), offering much food for thought.

I haven’t been able to make it up to the Bronx Museum yet, but I hope to at some point soon. In the meantime, I will keep working on my paintings, pondering the art event project, and continue on this Travesia Artistica.

You can see more photos of ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York and lots of other arts and cultural events on my Instagram: @whippedhoney

Gallery talk for ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York at El Museo Del Barrio

Entrance of Loisaida Inc.

Photographer Maximo Colon's gallery talk at Loisaida Inc.

¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York at Loisaida Inc.

¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York at Loisaida Inc.

¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York at Loisaida Inc.

Talk "Presente in Absentia: Diasporic Responses to Puerto Rico’s Crisis" at Loisaida Inc.

Panelists and staff at Loisaida Inc.

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